Palaeopriapulites parvus, Rare Diminutive Priapulid Worm from Chengjiang

Name: Palaeopriapulites parvus

Phylum Cephaloryncha or Phylum Priapulida, depending on convention

Geological Time: Early Cambrian (~525 million years ago)

Size: 7 mm long by 3 mm across on a 27 mm by 25 mm matrix

Fossil Site: Maotianshan Shale, Chengjiang Biota, Quiongzhusi Section, Yu’anshan Member, Heilinpu Formation, Mafang Village, Anning, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

Lingulella chengjiangensisDescription: This is one of the more rare members of the Priapulida is known as Palaeopriapulites parvus. The diversity of soft-tissue fossils is astonishing: algae, medusiforms, sponges, priapulids, annelid-like worms, echinoderms, arthropods (including trilobites), hemichordates, chordates, and the first agnathan fish make up just a small fraction of the total. Numerous problematic forms are known as well, some of which may have represented failed attempts at diversity that did not persist to the present day. The priapulids are a group of non-segmented worms whose modern-day examples can reach 30 cm in length, and live in both shallow and deep marine sands as carnivores. Individuals of this small taxon (parvus means “small” in Latin) are less than 10 mm in length with a figure 8 shape. This is a monotypic genus which has its own family, the Palaeopriapulitidae. This taxon is only known from the Chengjiang area and Anning.

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